No fewer than 13 sick children and three women transported from Benue State for alms begging in the Egbeda area of Lagos State have been rescued.
PUNCH Metro gathered that an unregistered non-governmental organisation took the victims from their homes in Benue under the pretext of helping them to get medical care.
However, the organisation allegedly turned them into beggars.
The Chief Executive Officer of a rights group, Supreme Family Entertainment International Initiative, Hemni Andrew, said when she got to know about the incident, she informed the police and the victims were rescued from a hotel in Egbeda.
According to Andrew, one of the victims, Mary Donald, was on the street begging when she overheard a passerby speak her dialect.
He said the victim called the woman and narrated her ordeal to her.
Andrew said, “Mary told us that they were planning to take them to an unknown destination and that was when we rushed to rescue them because we did not know where they were taking them to.
“Immediately I got the information on Wednesday, I couldn’t ignore it. I called the Gowon Police Station and the DPO helped us with a van that was used to rescue the victims as well as arrest the perpetrators; eight of them.
“We were at Area M Division around 2am. The perpetrators claimed that their organisation was registered, but couldn’t mention the name of the organisation. They even had a manager that the victims remit money to. They were using them for business.
“The day they don’t make enough money, the victims will not eat. They were given N1,000 for feeding each day they went out to beg. The NGO claimed that they helped some of them through surgery, but they are still very sick. I have been trying to give them medical attention, feeding and clothing. We had to buy them some clothes when they came.
“The woman, called Faith, who brought them from Benue State, bragged on the phone that there was nothing Lagos State could do to her or the suspects arrested; that since they had been rescued, she would go back to Benue State to bring more sick people to Lagos.
“When we rescued them, we took them to the Alimosho General Hospital with a police report, but they couldn’t admit them because they claimed that they did not have a specialist that could handle their cases. One of them was a woman with a protruding stomach, who was discharging water and blood from her private parts.”
Andrew urged well-meaning Nigerians to help the victims as she could not care for them alone.
One of the victims, identified only as Donald, who was battling cancer, said she was brought to Lagos with her two children.
She said, “I have had this cancer for two years. I was brought to Lagos with the promise that I would be treated. But since July that I arrived in Lagos, I only go out to beg for alms every day. I was either given N1,500 or N2,000 for food for me and my two children. I have not been taken to any hospital; I was only given pain tablets when I feel pain. We go out around 5am to beg and close by 3pm, but because of my condition as an albino, I told them that I could no longer stay under the sun, so I close by 12pm.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Adekunle Ajisebutu, said he would get back to our correspondent.
He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
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